“This is your story. Your adventure. You must enter the Manor and find your father. Only then will the mysteries unravel. Only then will your destiny become clear.”

I picked up The Cradle of All Worlds by Jeremy Lachlan at a paperback sale at the library, quickly discerning that it was a GU story from the cover blurb. However later I discovered that it had also been released with the alternate title Jane Doe and the Cradle of All Worlds (because it is the first book of a series), thereby making it a case of Titular Girls. It turned out to fit the archetype down to very small details, and was quite enjoyable and creative throughout, but was ultimately unsatisfying because it ended on a cliffhanger with no resolution or final confrontation with the Adversary. I hope these will come with the next book (Jane Doe and the Key of All Souls, due in February), but I personally prefer stand-alone books where the story is at least completed to a point, even if it then continues on in a different way in sequels.

Jane Doe, 14, has lived her whole life on an isolated island with her father who cannot speak or interact, where both of them are reviled as cursed by the townspeople. She does not know anything about her past, her mother, or even her own name. She only has one friend, a younger girl named Violet. This island has one notable feature – a magical door into a place called the Manor, which is a sort of meeting place between all possible worlds, created by the gods themselves.

One day Jane receives a secret message that leads her into a trap by a bad man who seems initially to be the Adversary but is quickly dealt with – there are much bigger foes ahead. She discovers a piece of her own history from a local wise woman, who tells her she alone can save the island – but it is so much bigger than that, as she will soon find out. When her father suddenly gains volition and disappears into the Manor, Jane begins a quest to find him and save the world – maybe all the worlds.

Within the Manor she acquires another companion, dodges booby traps, navigates an impossibly labyrinthine and tricksy landscape, learns of the true Adversary, finds more pieces of the puzzle that is her life, is betrayed, finds her father and loses him again, and is almost eaten by monsters. By the end of the book, she is faced with life-changing information that will result, I’m sure, in an ultimate confrontation, but as I said, not yet, not until the sequel (if indeed there is only one and it’s not going to be stretched out for multiple future books).